Helicobacter Pylori

Helicobacter Pylori

This leaflet has been developed by Staff at West Middlesex University Hospital

What is Helicobacter Pylori?

Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that can infect the lining of the stomach and duodenum (first part of intestine).

Around 40% of people in the UK, have H. pylori in their stomach and approximately 8 to 9 out of 10 people who have it, does not cause any problems and therefore, do not require any treatment.

What symptoms can H. Pylori cause?

Most people with H. pylori have no symptoms at all and therefore do not require any treatment.

Common symptoms:

Severe indigestion that does not respond to over the counter or other medications, nausea, bloating.

Rare symptoms:

H. pylori can cause stomach and duodenal ulcers, unintentional weight loss, vomiting blood, melaena (black, sticky poo).

What causes H. Pylori?

Not very well understood exactly how H. pylori spreads but is thought to spread person to person and usually occurs in childhood from parents or siblings.

Contact with saliva, vomit or faeces from an infected person are some ways H. pylori can spread.

It is becoming less common in the UK and are unlikely to pass it on.

How is it diagnosed?

H. pylori is only tested for if people have symptoms as treating people who have no symptoms, will not make them feel any better.

Urea breath test:

This involves drinking a special liquid that contains urea. You then give a breath sample. H. pylori breaks down urea, if H. pylori is present the breakdown products of urea will be found in the breath sample.

H. pylori tests are accurate, safe, simple, and quick to perform.

Stool antigen test:

Pea-sized sample of faeces can be tested for traces for H. pylori.

Blood test:

Can show if someone has been infected but can’t tell us between a current infection and a previous infection that has resolved.

High ‘false positive’ rate so is used less often now in the UK.


During endoscopy a small flexible tube Sometimes a small biopsy of the lining of the stomach is taken during endoscopy which can be tested for H. pylori.

How is H. pylori managed?

H. pylori treatment consists of three different medications, usually referred to as triple therapy, which is taken together for one week.

Over 90% of patients will be successfully treated with triple therapy if they fully complete the course.

These are two different antibiotics and an acid-lowering medication, it is important to take all the medications exactly as directed and complete the full course.

Common side effects from the therapy include indigestion, nausea, diarrhoea, and headaches. 

Follow up

If you have indigestion, it is usually only necessary to check if H. pylori has gone if symptoms come back after treatment.

If you have a gastric or duodenal ulcer, testing is usually done 6-8 weeks after treatment and sometimes a repeat endoscopy can be recommended to check. Once successfully eradicated, the risk of being reinfected are very low.

If you have further questions, please consult your doctor.

Contact information

Endoscopy Unit
West Middlesex University Hospital
Twickenham Road

 Mon-Fri, 8am – 6pm

T: 020 8321 2585/5191 (Nursing Station)
T: 020 8321 5752/6420 (Endoscopy Department)

The Endoscopy Unit is located on ground floor of the Main Building, in the East Wing

Further information

If you would like further information or have any questions after reading this, please consult your doctor, nurse or your GP

Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS)

If you have concerns or wish to give feedback about services, your care or treatment, you can contact the PALS office on the Ground Floor of the hospital just behind the main reception.

Alternatively, you can send us your comments or suggestions on one of our comment cards, available at the PALS office, or on a feedback form on our website Send us feedback — Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (chelwest.nhs.uk).

We value your opinion and invite you to provide us with feedback.

Chelsea Site:

T: 0203 315 6727
E: Chelwest.cwpals@nhs.net

West Middlesex Site:

T: 0208 321 6261
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital
NHS Foundation Trust
369 Fulham Road
SW10 9NH
T: 020 3315 8000
W: www.chelwest.nhs.uk
Dr Moe Kyaw